IONIC, Pixels in spaaaaace!

Dec
28

IONIC, Pixels in spaaaaace!

ionic1

Ionic is an upcoming Flash game, made in collaboration with my good friends @Gaming Your Way, scheduled to hit your monitors in a few weeks at most.
The game is a Tower Defense type of game, that visually pays homage to the “classic” horizontal-scrolling shooters, like R-Type, Lifeforce, Scramble or Gradius.

I arrived on the project while most of the gameplay was already heavily prototyped, and I was tasked with doing the Art for most of the game elements, as well as for the User Interface.

Your Dreadnought, with the now infamous "she-boy" that acts as your advisor

Your Dreadnought, with the now infamous "she-boy" that acts as your advisor

The Game

The player is in charge of equipping and defending a massive floating spaceship, called “dreadnought” from relentless hordes of Alien attackers, composed of various ships with different capabilities.

The player can equip turrets on the ship, that will automatically take over the incoming waves. Weapons are diverse and powerful, and range from the simple but efficient machine gun turret, to the powerful flame thrower, without forgetting the Tesla coil, and other spacey-lasers!

Your Alien enemies

Your Alien enemies

The Alien attackers are also quite diverse, and do present varied movement patterns, speed or firepower. The first waves are composed of the slow-moving “Raiders”, easy to take down and with minimal firepower, but the game quickly steps-up, as the “Pillagers”, an evolved version of the Raiders appear, followed by the Heavy Bombers, some of them bearing a shield, doing heavy damage to your turrets, or even your core, if your layout wasn’t efficient enough to take down the incoming waves before they can reach your vital “core”, the pulsating source of energy that feeds your ship.

Occasionally, you will be pitted against the Alien Juggernaut, a massive attack ship, slow moving, but doing enough damage to two-shot some of your lighter structures.

As you take down your enemies, they drop gold, quickly collected by drones, the “Chrysus”, that will provide funds to buy more turrets and repair or upgrade your equipped weapons.

The Art

As stated at the beginning of the post, I definitely took inspiration in the golden era of Shoot-them-up.

The treatment for the sprites is pixel-art-ish (overall, the shapes and general motives are drawn and colored pixel-by-pixel, but a lot of shading and texturing is then applied in a more photoshop-friendly manner)

For the Dreadnought, I relied on the existing structure (what one might call “level design” although, for this game, it is more a “layout” than a complex level structure ) that was present at the prototype, and for which the gameplay had already been balanced. So the creation work was more on how to “dress up” that layout and make it compelling for the eye, as well as bring a sentiment of “ownership” of that massive spacecraft for the player. The whole device needed to feel like a run-down, yet high-tech space station, and I used a delicate balance of blues and beiges, with a few light-blue and yellow highlights, to emphasize the coldness of space around it.

The Enemies needed to feel “Alien”, and most importantly, their technology needed to feel different from the one used on the dreadnought. I went with rounder shapes, using yellowish metal textures (so that it stands out against the dreadnought) and combined these metal plates with more organic elements (tentacles and what appears as a blob of flesh) to achieve the “alien-ish”, almost bio-mechanical look that I liked so much in R-Type.
The Alien ships are all color-coded to be easily identifiable by the player, and I worked this color code into a sort of Orb that every ship carries, but that generates a different glow depending on the ship’s nature.

The User Interface takes the codes used for the Dreadnought (as it is the ship’s interface, in some fashion) with orange-ish and light blue highlights to have it standout on the players’ screen. There again, the goal to achieve was to make it look like a beaten-down, abandoned yet high-tech object that players would manipulate.

in-game screenshot

in-game screenshot

The game is completely finished, and is currently being auctioned to various gaming portals. It should be available for everyone to play in a few weeks, around mid-January

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